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Silent Movie History

               Silent Movie History Film Clips

Converted Film Haters (Photoplay Magazine, 1920)

Tin Pan Alley songster (and later Hollywood musical composer) Howard Dietz (1896-1983) penned this verse for Vanity Fair in celebration of the persuasive charm of film:

"We used to sneer at movies; they were vulgar

To our aesthetic, cultured sort of mind;

Amusement for the lowbrows or people who had no brows..."

Click here to read magazine articles about D.W. Griffith.


The Advantages of Silent Movies Over Theater (Photoplay Magazine, 1920)

Strong arguments were put to verse by the popular song writer Howard Dietz (1896 - 1983) as to why the up-town theater crowd had it all wrong.

"The picture theater is always dark
So things you throw won't hit the mark.

The actor in the movie play
Can't hear the things you often say.

The spoken drama's always longer;
The movie hero's always stronger."

Click here to read more comparisons between film and stage.


Fearing German Filmmakers (Current Opinion, 1921)

Teutonic film producers must have gotten a good guffaw upon reading the attached article that announced how insecure Hollywood producers felt when faced with the filmmakers of Germany. These intimidated studio heads and distributors believed that the Germans had a leg-up on Hollywood due to the high quantity of well-trained actors, crew and writers who had benefited from the traditions set forth generations earlier in German theater - so much so that they beseeched the law givers in Washington to protect them from these Germans...


The Silent Movie Producers of 1919 (Vanity Fair, 1919)

In three short columns this article outlines the growth of the film industry beginning in 1909 to the time of this printing, in 1919.

In 1930 Adolf Zukor was listed as one of the most powerful men in Washington...


Irving Thalberg: Hollywood's Boy Wonder (Collier's Magazine, 1924)

An article covering the early career of twenty five year-old Irving Thalberg (1899 1936): legendary Hollywood executive and movie producer, whose natural abilities in the Dream Factory catapulted his meteoric rise to greater power, leaving a long string of hits and well-admired film productions in his wake before pneumonia got the better of him twelve years after this article went to press. Thalberg's unique understanding of film and instinct for talent set him heads above his peers; through the years he has been the subject of a number of books and continues to be discussed to this day. Upon his passing it was widely recognized that there would never be another Thalberg and their never has been.

Like a lot of people who made a name for themselves in Hollywood, Thalberg was from Brooklyn, New York. Click here to read about some of the other Brooklynites who made it big in the movies.


Norma Talmadge was Different (Photoplay Magazine, 1923)

As delighted as this PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE journalist was to make the acquaintance of 1920s film star Norma Talmadge (1894 1957), she could not help but compare her to the reigning film diva of the period, Mary Pickford:

"Mary awakens your love."
"Norma awakens your admiration."
"Mary makes you long to be of service to her."
"Norma makes you long to have her friendship."
"Mary Pickford is a sort of divine child, who always seems far away from you, glowing in a soft light..."
"Norma Talmadge is an intelligent, brilliant woman of the world, with every faculty keyed to the highest pitch..."

The interview was conducted by the versatile Adela Rogers St. Johns (1894 1988): a veteran journalist from Hollywood's earliest days, she also made her mark writing screenplays, novels and toiled in the precincts as one of the first woman police reporters.


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